Top 10 Otherwise Promising Movies Ruined by CGI

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Ask anyone older than a fetus’s age, they’ll tell you that film isn’t what it used to be (like most things in life and especially when it comes to the entertainment industry).  Film used to be an artform in which filmmakers always took the long route in having their cinematic brainchild become a direct manifestation of their creative cerebral stirrings.  Any compromises or attempts to tamper with their precious babies used to be treated as blasphemy or at least was met with violent opposition.  Unfortunately, that was the status quo of yesteryear; nowadays the corporate-types pull all the reigns while the creative department sits snuggly and silently within the pockets of their double breasted suit jackets.  Risks are no longer taken as such might result in a single dollar being lost at controversy’s expense.  To find true art, you have to look under the heaviest and most obscure rocks in the forest, where independent filmmakers and nascent film students reside who haven’t yet had their quixotic hearts tainted by cupidity.  Raw talent seems to only prevail in places like Sundance, as does DIY filmmaking; unfortunately, the loudest voice, i.e. Hollywood, knows only the easy way out and shortest path to a profit, the most commonly used shortcut sweeping the cinemas being the dreaded CGI.  So tasteless is this accoutrement that is found in virtually every summer blockbuster that comes out nowadays, taking the place of actual effort on anyone’s part but a stock animator’s.  CGI-filled scenes are always the most disjointed parts of a live-action film, and they are so awkwardly included as if no one in the audience is asking when all of a sudden the movie turned into Space Jam, humans and cartoons appearing side-by-side in pie-in-the-face, exploding cigar disharmony.  While laziness seems to be the current state of the industry, and all last resorts are made the only resorts, movies will only continue to be of the most deplorable quality and relentlessly filled with this cheap caulking agent, a.k.a. CGI.  Here are 10 otherwise promising and latent enjoyable films that were ruined by such heavy CGI implementation.

10.  Transformers (2007)

While really every Michael Bay movie is synonymous with wasteful budgets, explosions, and a lack of depth (you could say the same thing about George Bush), this movie takes the cake (and then blows it up) as far as such crude characteristics go.  Little thought beyond casting Meghan Fox, exploiting an old Saturday morning cartoon, and blowing up cars and buildings is at work here, and mechanically-hesitant computer renderings amount for the literal vehicles which somehow have driven this movie to a second sequel.  Take out Megan Fox, or put her in sweatpants, and the story would likely be a different one.  This movie epitomizes how such a lack of material, brainpower, creativity, or social relevance has no stake in Hollywood’s success when it comes to raking in piles of cash.  Such seemingly low standards are self-perpetuating: while the masses continue to consume the mindless slop that is served at local gruel lines, i.e. movie theaters, the consensus is that  we actually enjoy the stuff and want more, thus it is delivered in untamed proportions (and Michael Bay maintains employment performing virtual lobotomies in high volumes).

9.  Star Wars Episode I (1999)

Jar Jar Binks Top Tenz

George Lucas’s strategy to create a saga in nonconsecutive order may have been a brilliant way to build suspense, but with suspense comes anticipation and ultimately heightened expectations.  Lucas could hardly hope to meet such expectations perfectly; so, it would seem, he hardly even tried to.  Continuity issues were the first issue to be addressed in such an ass-backward approach to film-making; you can’t embark on such an epic endeavor if you can’t maintain a consistent storyline.  For the most part, that wasn’t an issue: Anakin grew up to be Vador as planned (though, in order to procreate and produce Luke and Leia with Padme, Padme had to apparently lack the ability to age during Anakin’s adolescent years), the empire became corrupt, the rebel alliance came about, etc., etc.  The one thing not accounted for? The advent of CGI.  Somehow CGI existed in the first three but only puppets and Frank Oz’s voice did in the last three (the “remastered” versions of the movies attempted to tie up this loophole by more or less ruining them with a CGI version of Jabba the Hut, amongst other things).  The worst result of such heavy CGI outpour? Jar Jar Binks (and Pod-Racers).  Meesa longs for the days when special effects involved little more than plumbing components and slinkies.

8.  Deep Blue Sea (1999)

 

What do you get when you take the scariest part of the movie Jaws, the human-like intelligence of the velociraptors from Jurassic Park, and fill the screen with bad actors and even worse CGI?  This movie… and an animatronic shark.  At least a robotic shark can actually pop out of the water and chase you in real time.  CGI is can only be added in after a performance and thusly only after the fear has been fabricated.  This means true fear will never take hold of any mediocre actor, at least enough to convey to an audience of incredulous beings.  Now throw the eye candy in the water with Steven Spielberg’s floating tooth-bot and you might provide some incentive for actors in great need of it.  Simply put, fake sharks belong on a screensaver, not on the big screen; either way, they are never cause for any alarm, and you’d much rather be watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel instead.

7.  Van Helsing (2004)

Van Helsing Top Tenz

The idea of putting all of the classic Universal Studios monsters into one film sounds like…well, a monster mash.  Hugh Jackman seems like as competent an actor as any other to play such a role, himself being quite familiar with vicious transformations and half-humans as an one of the X-Men, but even his grit couldn’t add any meatiness to this shriveled-up piece of roadkill.  Every vampire, werewolf, or man-sized bat that comes on screen does so in a highly unnatural and twitchy way that feels tawdry and completely alienating.  Female vampires bats with slimy bosoms are gross enough, but just because they are undead, doesn’t mean they can’t be portrayed by living actors.  This movie fails on all grounds associated with horror-movie tradition.  What made the originals so effective was that human performers in make-up used relatable feelings of insecurity and fear of the unknown to strike fear into the beating and racing hearts of living audience members.  Obviously the change of the times requires an update of sorts, but the simple truth is that CGI will never be scary because it has no believable application in the real world.  As far as action scenes go, there is no reward for defeating something that doesn’t exist in the first place, or so the audience feels.

6.  Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (2008)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls Top Tenz

Harrison Ford accounts for probably over half of the CGI used in this movie alone for the extreme age reversing.  Otherwise, the script was too ridiculous and farfetched to feel like it wasn’t trying too hard.  The movie felt like it was produced on one big sound stage, leaving little room for wonder and making all the adventure seem too packaged.  The inclusion of the aliens by themselves made this movie a farce, a black sheep in a franchise that already had its last crusade, although another one apparently felt it needed to be unearthed after a debilitating hiatus and much aging on Indiana’s part.

5.  The Mummy Returns (2001)

 

The second in the trilogy (ugh…and that’s not including the Scorpion King spin-off), this franchise was birthed by an extremely enjoyable first film, which made ancient Egyptian theology come alive in a very literal way.  As magic seems never to be planned but is often unsuccessfully reproduced, this film followed suit by taking the original, successful formula and simply multiplying the ingredients: more mummies, more chase scenes, more reincarnations, and more scenery chomping.  All’s well so far, except for the computer-generated mummies (which fail to scare on behalf of how unreal they look), until the Scorpion King appears, which looks like the Rock was taken from a WWF Smackdown video game for the PS2 and adjoined to the body of a huge, centaur-esque scorpion.  The result is a confused looking piece of sloppy artificial intelligence, clumsily stumbling around as if experiencing a technical glitch.  When a synthetic Brendan Frasier dives to catch a computer-generated spear, it’s enough to make you want to be mummified alive.  When the third Mummy installment takes place in China and doesn’t even have any true mummies in it, though almost a 100% CGI-driven plot, it makes you wonder if there’s an executive office in L.A. which contains no more than three monkeys holding darts, some copies of the National Geographic, and a note-taking secretary.

4.  The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

 

This sequel (as well as the subsequent three-quel) was really unneeded.  The first film summed up everything that needed to be and stood alone as a brilliant cinematic achievement in its own rite.  If anything, Reloaded just gives rabid fans another chance to indulge in the fantasy world that was so perfectly created the first time around; we really just wanted to see Neo plug back into the Matrix and defile more Agents so we could plug ourselves in as well once more.  The added characters and conceptual expansion made it all the more deep, making all the Kung Fu and firepower seem a little more intellectually-involved.  What hurt this film in a critical way was its trading in of wires and choreography for the fatuous use of CGI (which saves money and time while wasting that of the moviegoers).  Money was an obvious factor for the Wachowski Brothers who seemed unashamed of throwing their brilliance out into a river of trashy exploitation (later they would forget to flush their excrements and produce a live-action Speed Racer movie, i.e. a turd on wheels).  CGI was what allowed a thousand Agent clones to be sweep kicked by a rubbery looking Keanu Reeves, and even while Keanu lacks a great amount of facial expression in real life, his CGI counterpart somehow managed to omit a few more expressions.  Such bluntly-reoccurring scenes immediately take you out of the movie and really make you see the difference between the real world and that which the Matrix portrays (maybe it’s intentional, though countless examples of the same insufferable situation beg to differ).

3.  Superman Returns (2006)

 

Really, most comic book movies as of late could fit onto this list (Fantastic Four 1 and 2, Dare Devil, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man 3, Blade 2 and 3) but such are so endlessly forthcoming that they require exclusive devotion.  It’s easy to predict a failure, for instance, a three-quel when the sequel was God-awful.  Also, no movie with a mainstream comic book hero and team that’s made it to the big screen in the last ten years has successfully shed its hand-sketched origins (as live-action movies tend never to consist exclusively of live actors).  Superman was an especially big letdown because it seemed like a franchise long in need of a reboot.  After all, with the success of Batman’s sexy new overcoat (with the aid of director Christopher Nolan) and Spider-Man’s drool-inducing cinematic deflowering, Superman seemed like the next worthy contender, being in a similar league of high-profile heroism.  It might have been a good fight, if they even tried to make it not suck.  The script, after all, seemed to be little more than a replication of the original Christopher Reeves film’s: Lex Luthor is still the villain (and only villain), Superman saves the same plummeting airplane and offers the same robotic one-liner, and once again we see young Clark Kent realizing his inhuman abilities at his adoptive family’s farm. Essentially nothing’s changed since his 19-year absence (that is, since the last installment of the previous franchise), nothing except the fact that every one of his flying scenes is CGI-affected, and every time he flies, the spectator gets a big close-up of how much of a sham this superhero really is.  It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’s an illusion.  This movie turned out to be no more than a box-office opportunity to capitalize on the high-flying, graphic-novel-meets-the-big-screen craze in disguise.

2.  King Kong (2005)

 

This movie was breathtaking. Then King Kong and his overgrown creature friends appeared on screen.  The idea of making this movie take place in New York in the thirties was a great one; the imagery was delightful, evoking a glamorous era of a city long since jaded to its formerly romantic ideals of booming industry and individual success.  The cinematography and thematic Depression-Era overtones glimmered in a highly appealing way, making the movie seem more contentious than just a revamped Hollywood monster movie.  You’d think that adapting J.R.R. Tolkien successfully was proof that anything adapted subsequently would have to be golden; when the crew reaches Skull Island and gets pummeled (for about two hours of the three) by giant insects, dinosaurs, and finally the ape, it makes you long for the old-school claymation.  At least the lump-of-coal-looking original was actually made out of something that could be readily worked with.  Seeing Naomi Watts fall in love with Kong just reminds me of the crush I used to have on Daphne from Scooby Doo.  Synthetic images will never feel congruous to real ones, and you can never tell someone to see something within a Rorschach inkblot if it doesn’t come natural.

1.  Alice in Wonderland (2010)

 

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Tim Burton used to be a conceptually-brilliant director with a signature style that was undeniably salient in everything he put his hands on, his high points being with cinematic marvels like Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood where his creativity truly ran amok in a very tangible way. His true forte was underlying dark (characteristically gothic) imagery with trenchant social commentary, a camera and story providing only  the mediums for expression (regularly casting Johnny Depp didn’t hurt either).  It may be a sad truth to conclude that he’s surpassed his peak as director, his valleys being in rehashes and adaptations like Planet of the Apes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,  Sweeney Todd, and most recently Alice in Wonderland.  The latter was as much a travesty as it was a tragedy, seeing such a watered down, profit-seeker document Burton’s most subdued level of creativity.  This should have been a field day for him to adapt Lewis Carrol’s tale of distorted perception and the preservation of imagination, but it amounted to little more than a cheap kiddie flick and hardly a swing from the fully-animated Disney cartoon. First of all, this film wasn’t even filmed for 3D, though it was sold and featured as such; that alone says how little of Burton’s autonomy was involved.  He may have been responsible for a few flourishes of macabre imagery (decapitated heads floating in the Queen’s moat, the inordinate amount of eyeballs poked out, the occasional creepy- looking tree, etc.), but the overt showiness of the deliberated action sequences (as opposed to feathery nuances he would have included in a film with more substance) and inundating, not to mention jarring, CGI usage defies the Burton everyone (but small children) knows and loves.  Each of the Tweedles looked like a cheap 3D rendering of Charlie Brown (if he had an identical twin) while the Queen looked like a cheat code was unlocked in an old Nintendo 64 game that makes all the enemies’ heads swell to a comically-large size.  Good news: a video game adaptation of the movie would be an easy transition.  The choppy visuals would be nothing out of the ordinary for gamers with immensely low standards.


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47 Comments

  1. None of these movies posted were never really meant to be panned by an Oscar judge is the first thing I noticed… I truly dislike the hype the follows may of these, ie Transformers, Van Helsing… And I do agree with the stupidity of Jar Jar Binks, but sometimes, let a dumb movie just be a movie. I loved Superman Returns and The Matrix series.

  2. “While really every Michael Bay movie is synonymous with wasteful budgets, explosions, and a lack of depth (you could say the same thing about George Bush)”

    Good posting but you had to get political. So here you go….

    Actually, it’s more correct to say:

    “you could say the same thing about Obama and the Democratically controlled congress. Obama and congress have spent (wasted) more money than all the other presidents COMBINED!”

    Thank you and have a nice day.

  3. The idea is that CGI ruins the quality of film-making. The fact that these movies and many others adopt such a common, artistically-lazy practice automatically detriments how good they can possibly be. Using CGI = the allowance a certain amount of terribleness. While some of these movies may be remotely enjoyable, the focus is on their decision to commit movie malpractice and complete disregard for integrity as a result.

  4. I really like this top 10 as CGI was always one of my biggest pet peeves. I do agree that CGI has become the tool of absolutely lazy and unimaginative filmmakers. Seems like every summer blockbuster, actually any movie any season of the year, relies way too much on CGI.

    From this list the two I most agree with are Indiana Jones and King Kong. When Indiana Jones was being filmed, I could have sworn that the filmmakers promised that there wouldn’t be an excess of CGI. Yet when I watched it I was absolutely bored to tears with the ridiculous amounts of CGI. Same with King Kong. These movies were nothing but excuses to show ‘elaborate’ set pieces filled with CGI meant to awe the audience, but instead puts them to sleep. How many ‘run away from CGI creature’ sequences do we need in every movie?

    Now with some movies like Transformers yes I can accept that it will be CGI since CGI effects are probably a bit more ‘realistic’ and ‘fluid’ than the traditional stop motion animation of yesteryear.

    But when you have movies like ‘Troy’ using CGI to show tens of thousands of people fighting, it’s just plain lazy and unnecessary.

    A great movie nowadays, like The American with George Clooney, is all about mood and subdued acting, not non stop brainless CGI.

  5. StateTheObvious on

    I think this list misses the point, and is itself a kind of lazy diatribe against CG, almost for the sake of it.

    Most of the movies featured here were intrinsically bad for many other reasons.

    ‘Van Helsing’, for example, with its hamfisted attempt to mash different genres together (see also ‘Wild Wild West’, and ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’), or the Star Wars prequels, where the absolute control wielded by Lucas led to terrible scripts, wooden acting (absolutely no improve from the actors, which helped give the first movies a lot of their humor) and even more wooden direction (when it wasn’t an action sequence concocted by an ILM previs animation team).

    By the time ‘The Matrix’ sequels were being produced (filmed back to back) the Wachowski brothers had completely lost interest, and boy, did it show. As for the ‘Transformers’ movies, I can’t help thinking that Spielberg is looking over Bay’s shoulder having a whale of a time encouraging Bay to develop ever more elaborate and ridiculous CG driven action sequences (think the whole Jonathan Ross/Russel Brand fiasco).

    ‘Superman Returns’, as you’ve alluded to, was simply a contemporary rehash of ‘Superman’, as Brian Singer couldn’t seem to step out of Richard Donner’s shadow, and I think Tim Burton has been phoning movies in for the last decade, at least.

    ‘Deep Blue Sea’… was that ever going to be a promising movie… really?

    I actually love the ‘Kong’ remake because most of the CG is so good! And How else could a lot of these movie effects get done otherwise? Miniatures? Guys in suits? Strings and wires?

    Do we really want to go back to the ’70’s?

    By all means give Computer Graphics a good kicking, but your arguments would have much more credibility if the movies you chose to examine were actually half decent in the first place.

    • Answer: yes we should go back to the seventies…and eighties…It’s not impossible to make fantasy come to live without cgi. It’s called costume and make up. Have you seen pan’s labyrinth (or hell boy); Guillermo Del Toro has no trouble at least pairing down some of the CGI when it comes to at least actual characters. His tedious make-up effects are very rooted in traditional horror filmmaking. That is an example of not compromising artistic craft by taking the time to add some physical texture. Additionally, what I liked about the original Matrix WAS all the usage of wires and fight choreography. Rather than the awkward animated sequences with Neo and the Smiths in part 2.

      • Hello!! Putting puppetry, costumes and makeup would’ve had the same effect. People would just hate such movies for the conspicuous masks and obvious wire cinematography.
        Anyway, In such movies, one has to have a certain level of suspension of disbelief to enjoy. And before you call me out, let me just say that Lord of the Rings trilogy had amazing CGI and so did the Harry Potter movies.
        Besides, the huge problems with the above movies were poor stories and pointless scenes requiring CGI when they were unnecessary(Transformers had a weak story, but to say the transformers themselves should be men-in-suits is silly. Same with King Kong. And old school special effects in Superman Returns would just make that movie even worse)

  6. I had a hard time reading this list. You need to learn to write more objectively, and not fill your points with personal opinion. Not to mention political statements have no place in a list like this.

    • This isn’t journalism. So objectivism and fact-worshipping aren’t top priority. If you notice, the movies are discussed without frequent explicit examples to accompany said point. And if you love CGI, well then this list will offend you inherently. As the political joke…it’s only that, not to mention 1000% topical. I take it you’ve never watched an episode of the Daily Show or Saturday Night Live or any stand-up by any liberal comedian ever…or else just one more crack, over two years past his presidency mind you, wouldn’t be so distressing…

    • What is it 2004? No need to get all up in arms, literally, over a topical joke about a politician no longer in office. Most can read around affiliations. If you walked away from everything loosely liberal in voice, you’d be illiterate and in a world of absolute ignorance, devoid of meaningful art. Kind of like the military. Only we know Vietnam vets love their Stones. (“Sweet Neo Con,” from their most recent album, is about Bush by the way).

  7. Whine whine whine whine whine.

    I like the transformers movies. I like the Star Wars prequels (minus all the lovey dovey crap in Episode II). Do I think they deserve a place in the pantheon of great movies with Kane and Schindler and such? No way. But then again, I doubt that the intention of the filmmakers was to even compete with that kind of thing.

    The CGI in Transformers, especially the first one, is mind blowing. I’m a bit of an animation geek, and I came out of the theater after seeing the first Transformers movie with my mouth wide open out of sheer amazement. It had next to no plot, some of the dialog was stiff, and yes they had some gratuitous Megan Fox shots. But this movie is about GIANT TRANSFORMING ROBOTS BEATING THE CRAP OUT OF EACH OTHER. That’s it. That’s why it exists. And that movie delivered it in spades. Same goes for Star Wars: I’m here for the lightsabers and space fights, and the prequels had plenty of both.

    • “But this movie is about GIANT TRANSFORMING ROBOTS BEATING THE CRAP OUT OF EACH OTHER.”

      Well all movies are about something. Should all movies have terrible story and dialogue, just because they’re about something?

  8. When i read the words “promising movies” in the title, i misunderstood. I thought you meant movies that are essentially good until the jarring CGI scene comes along and the suspension of disbelief is gone. The second Matrix movie was a good example, and i always skip the brawl scene. But the story is OK and aside from the aforementioned brawl, the CGI seems to add to the experience rather than detract. There even are some movies out there that really have nothing else going for them than the graphics. Two good examples are your number one – Alice in Wonderland and Avatar. These movies had confusing or downright silly and pointless stories, but they were so beautiful to watch. Honestly I could never watch either again; but if i did, I would do so with the volume muted.

  9. Good list, but I would have made it 11 and the new number one would be that god awful Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick.
    Not even Ferris Beuler could save that steaming turd.

    The whole charm of Godzilla was that he was a guy in a rubber suit. Even the later Japanese versions where they could have used CGI opted for the guy in a suit and cardboard Tokyos…

  10. While the premise of this article was promising, your first example was Transformers. I thought this was going to be about promising movies that were RUINED by CGI? Instead we get an elitist snob (you) simply pulling the same old college film critic method of bashing on enjoyable, successful movies in order to sound smarter than everyone else in the room. King Kong was ruined by CGI? I saw that one and knew you were full of it.

    • Eyeless Dog Pawless Dog Loveless Dog on

      And you bring the same rethoric “he’s bashing the stupid movies I, the stupid common folk enjoy therefore, he is a film snob Those movies are awful

  11. While I will agree that Transformers was the biggest bore fest ever (I actually fell asleep half way through) It was not because of the CGI. As for the rest of your list? IMHO; epic fail.

  12. Stephen King’s The Langoliers was ruined by CGI. There were ominous signs of the Langoliers existing throughout the movie without having seen them, and it kept me on the edge of my seat. Seeing the Langoliers was anti-climactic, they looked like meatballs with teeth, then it just became laughable.

  13. Am I the only one who enjoyed the new Alice in Wonderland?
    I’m old school when it comes to movies, and I hated Burton’s remake of Willy Wonka (Charlie) and the Chocolate Factory, but I feel like the CGI actually did Alice justice. Afterall, it was a wonderland…

    • Alice in Wonderland was very enjoyable and looked fantastic.

      Has no place being on this list, much less at the top. This list has no credibility whatsoever.

  14. Good list. King Kong, especially.

    There’s also something about the cinematography of CGI action sequences and the way those sequences tend to be paced… It seems there’s hardly any variation at all from one movie to another. If you’ve seen one CGI-heavy sequence, you really have seen almost all of them. There are very few CGI-heavy sequences that really stand out as fresh or unique. It’s as if directors aren’t thinking like directors anymore. They’re thinking like conventional CGI action sequence planners. Either that or they’re handing the duty off to conventional CGI action sequence planners.

    • StateThe Obvious on

      See my previous comment about ILM previs animators. The dozen or so Hollywood ‘A Teams’ of previs artists are all working on these movies, hence the similarities in style and pacing for the majority of action sequences.

      Add to that the need for the current crop of ‘Rockstar’ directors to out ‘Rockstar’ each other, and you end up with cookie-cutter CG action shots/films/trilogies/franchises (I don’t include James Cameron in this as he’s been doing action sequences better than most other directors for years, and long before CG previs became Viagra for adventure films).

  15. Superman Returns was a huge letdown, but that plane scene was incredible. Same for the Matrix Reloaded, dumb movie but some of those fight scenes were amazing.

  16. The biggest problem with CGI (no pun intended here) is that the computer geeks who work it forget how real animals move.

    Look at the original King Kong. Now look at the latest one. He spins around like a 20 oz howler monkey. Kong weighs in at ten tons. There is no way he could leap around lie that.

    NOW look at Talos from Jason and the Argonauts. You had a sense of size and movement in this stop motion giant. The ground shook and the metal joins creaked.

    Give me Ray Harryhausen over Big Blue any day.

    Size matters.

  17. Who’s the moron that wrote this article? While some CGI was fairly bad (Matrix reloaded) the others on this list were great. You included King Kong on a list of movies ruined by CGI? Clearly you simply wrote this in order to sound pretentious and take the contrarian point of view in an attempt to sound like the smartest moron in the room. Give it a rest, Junior.

    • Eyeless Dog Pawless Dog Loveless Dog on

      again, the common folk defending these awful movies because he likes them and calling those who not pretentious

      well, you ignorant person are the pretentious one trying to present yourself as down-to-earth and that, common.

      • Jo is right, this list is completely dopey. Most of the movies that are bad are bad for many reasons, cgi mostly being the least among them. At least half of the movies on the list greatly benefit from the cgi.

  18. CGI is lazy?

    You’re kidding right; at least contextually you cannot always say that animation is the lazy man’s way out. Perhaps you mean the directors which slump in cgi when they can’t be bothered to set it up ol’ school for obviously more realistic and better believability on the audience.

    I definitely would not say Toy Story, Shrek, UP etc… as lazy (Shaders) for example who spent hours perfecting the details on the characters (Monsters INC) and the background of a believable interior bedroom or an outside universe seen through an insect’s eyes.

    BTW, I would find it a very hard time trying to convince myself and sympathize with a hairy puppet that is supposed to be a giant animalistic Gorilla or believe that District 9 is anymore than the world imprisoning annoying drama actors who dress up as aliens.

    “Animation is the one type of movie that really does play for the entire audience”
    -John Lasseter

  19. CGI is a powerful tool which can be used well or very badly. If used sparingly or with a bit of thought, we can all believe our eyes, but if used to fill in numbers or substitute for effects which could use “real-life” actors or items, then the results are disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, the superb use of CGI to create TInTin or Beowulf or even Toy Story and Shrek are admirable as animated movies. They don’t pretend to be taking over human actors’ jobs, they are just animations.

    I have at home a dvd of the 1969 British film “The Battle of Britain”. This was long before CGI. The film features many aerial dogfight combat sequences, precisely choreographed and filmed using real Spitfires, Hurricanes, Messerschmitts, Stukas and Heinkels. These real WW2 planes were still in existence for the film (the German planes were borrowed from the Spanish Air Force) and given 1940 make-overs. The results are still an exciting visual spectacle in 2012 !

    having seen CGI air battles, they’re not in the same league as real planes !

  20. I really liked this article as I am someone who has issues with CGI. It could be good when done without relying heavily on it but the problem stands that most directors see it as a way to make their movie work and it has a tendency to have the opposite effect.

    Personally I am not a fan of CGI, I think it’s too easy to see when something has been done by this method whereas at least with latex, etc there was more imagination brought to the boil.

    I’m not a fan of Transformers but that’s just my personal choice, however if there was one film on the list I agree wholeheartedly with it is #1- Alice in Wonderland. I am a huge Burton fan, mostly of his early stuff, although I have a place in my heart for Sweeney Todd, and this movie was hyped up considerably for me and when I watched it I felt sadly let down. Where as Burton gone? The imagination he used to wield over films?

    It’s not to say the entire thing was horrible there were small glimpses there of something that could’ve been terrific, the Chesire Cat definitely sticks out, but the rest felt an advertisement to CGI and there seemed no heart to the story. I wasn’t concerned initially with the choice of effects yet as the film went on I started to really dislike the overuse of it. It deserved to be on this list.

    I cannot fault CGI entirely because some films beautifully balance out the special FX with the storyline but ultimately it comes down to the director and crew. If they become more interested in the staple of CGI, a lot of the plot is ruined in the process.

    I prefer indie films because less, if any CGI at all, is used and the substance is there but I feel it is overdone and I do agree that it is becoming too easy a tool to use. I’d rather as it stands, watch a horror film from the 80’s with latex, etc than anything CGI. I don’t care for the effects just give me a story that shows promise, originality and hope…

  21. James Franklin on

    This is a totally moronic list. Most of the films that are bad on this list are bad due to poor script and direction. For some (Transformers, Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars), the cg visuals are probably the best thing about the film.

  22. I think your spell-checker replaced “boring stories, poorly written scripts and bad directing” with CGI.

    You might want to fix that.

  23. BigEsmallbProductions on

    CGI is just another tool for the film director to use. To judge the movie because of the tool is inaccurate, while judging the techniques and decisions made by the director would be accurate.

  24. What exactly did you expect from transformers, I think CGI was the only way to make it…….good. Not saying that Transformers was SO good, I’m just saying that for the big robots themselves I think CGI was the best choice

  25. I hate the overuse of CGI. No matter how good it gets, we will always know what we are looking at isn’t there. Especially when the actors don’t know which way to look. But I disagree with some of the films listed here because there are appropriate uses of CGI and some films could never function without it.

    Namely, Transformers. Transformers is an enjoyable film, and I’m not sure how much better a film Transformers could really expect. But the CGI was great and there’s no way you could do any of that stuff without a computer, sorry.

    Usually I hate the use of CGI on human beings. Stunts in movies should be performed by stuntmen, not animators. But in the matrix trilogy is an exception to the rule because of the context. The action itself IS IN A COMPUTER! They did it right.

  26. agree with alot of this. i love the matrix movies but as i watch them over time i find the fight sequences really unnecessary. agreed.

    i abhor transformers. it was a bad story with overdone hard to watch graphics. practically the worst film series of our age. i felt like van helsing worked though, being kind of bad cgi because well, the entire film had that sorta so bad its good thing going for it.

    ultimately cgi really does ruin. it can be used tastefully (jurassic park as an early example) but often its a cop out to more realistic traditional methods of costume design/wires/models/etc. i think as a species we have trouble accepting that not ALL progress means improvement. i figure in another 10-20 years or so the cgi craze will have died down and this era will be embaressingly laughed at for all time. cgi is after all a new thing. its kinda like how in gaming, for the past decade there has been almost nothing but FPS FPS FPS. nowdays, ppl are finally rememering that old 2d side scrollers and older styles of gameplay were actually more ‘fun’ and all that is making a huge comeback. new things get overly embraced and overly used. stupid stupid humans -_-

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